S&D Euro MPs set priorities for next migration and home affairs commissioner
S&D MEPs today grilled the commissioner-designate for migration and home affairs, Mr Dimitris Avramopoulos, over a set of priorities that they expected him to keep high-up in the next EU Commission's agenda.
Following the hearing, the S&D Group took note that the commissioner-designate Avramopoulos acknowledged the need for a thorough assessment of compatibility with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights for all data protection legislation and the agreements in force, including PNR.
Moreover, on our initiative Mr Avramopoulos has committed to:
• a firm rejection of the refoulement principle and defence of the international obligation to rescue migrants (from sea boats in distress);
• create a European framework on legal migration, not only taking into account highly skilled workers but also unskilled migrants;
• propose concrete measures for safe and legal access to asylum (and better distribution of refugees among member states);
• oppose national obstacles to freedom of movement within the EU, report twice a year to the European Parliament on Schengen, and press for rapidly allowing Bulgaria and Romania into the passport-free area;
• strengthen the fight against organised crime, human trafficking, corruption and money-laundering;
• actions to prevent radicalisation and terrorism
S&D vice-president Tanja Fajon said:
"I welcome the commissioner-designates clear and loud position against a European fortress. Socialists and Democrats insist that building high walls around Europe or national states leads to very dangerous isolation. We must assure that these will not remain only empty words but clear commitments translated into acts and legislation that respects fundamental freedoms.
"The continuing tragedy in the Mediterranean sea must stop. We must ensure that European immigration and asylum policy is based on true European solidarity in terms of real actions and numbers in the areas of reception of refugees and immigrants. We expect the new commissioner to uphold asylum seekers' rights and promote safe and lawful access to the EU's asylum systems.
"The EU must promote channels of legal migration and give more support to national and local efforts to integrate migrants and allow them to participate in society.
"We support visa liberalisation and want to cut red-tapes for third country citizens moving across Schengen borders.
"We also expect the new commissioner to take into consideration the serious reservations of the European Parliament concerning the 'smart borders' package.
"Mr Avramopoulos seems to have understood that all instruments of mass data collection have to be seen in light of the annulment of the data retention directive. However, for the future we will need a clearer commitment to review the legality of existing and future instruments, including the TFTP and PNR agreements.
"We should especially refrain from creating new instruments on data retention such as the proposed European PNR system which raises serious concerns in terms of data protection.
"Mr Avramopoulos also promised to fully incorporate the respect for fundamental rights in all measures on the fight against serious crime and terrorism. We will hold him accountable on this promise! Especially when it comes to the collection of personal data and the exchange of such information, the rights to data protection and privacy have to be respected."